After nearly 46 years behind bars, Wilbert Jones walked out of a Louisiana prison a free man. The 65-year-old was just 19 years old when he was wrongfully convicted of kidnapping and raping a nurse, who was abducted from outside a Baton Rouge, LA, hospital in Oct. 1971. In 1974, he was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Wilbert’s rape conviction was overturned by State District Judge Richard Anderson, who said his case was “weak at best” and that authorities withheld evidence that would have exonerated him years ago. The nurse was the only witness who testified against Wilbert, according to NBC News, and she reportedly identified him out of a lineup. However, she noticed that he was shorter and had a different voice. She passed away in 2008.
Wilbert Jones reunited with his family after nearly 46 years behind bars.
Yet despite the fact that he spent nearly his entire life in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, he doesn’t hold any grudges. “God is so good,” he reportedly said when he was released Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. “I forgave. I forgive,” he told reporters. “I didn’t have control of it. Why should I worry about it? I’m in charge of myself.” As he hugged his brother, Plem Jones, outside East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, he said, “Freedom. After more than 45 years and 10 months. That’s going through my mind.”
So what will be he be doing after spending decades behind bars? Eating a delicious meal! “Some gumbo and some good potato salad and some good dessert,” he said. “Enjoy my little life I have left and speak to young kids and tell them to go the right way and not this way.” His niece, Wajeedah Jones, told The Detroit News she already knew of her uncle’s request. “We will have the gumbo ready for him when he gets out,” she said.
Wilbert told CBS News of his new-found freedom, “Most of my life was taken away from me for something I didn’t do. I feel wonderful and I thank God for this opportunity. And I thank God for this legal team.”
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